The Humble Administrator's Garden(Zhuo Zheng Yuan)
The Humble Administrator's Garden is the most famous of the south-eastern
gardens; the very best of the East Wu Kingdom, and one of four great Chinese
gardens-a classical Suzhou garden.
The Humble Administrator's Garden is situated in Dongbei
Street, Inner Dongbei Loumen, in the old city area of Suzhou. The garden
occupies 4.1 hectares (not including administration area and flower nutsery,
which occupy approximately 0.67 hectare). In the fourth year of the Ming
dynasty's Zhengde period (1509 A.D.),the Emperors' envoy Wang Xianchen started
to build it. During the next 400 years, following dynastic changes and different
owners,through splendour and decay, the garden developed from formingone entity
into separating into three gardens all with their own style.
The Humble Administrator's Garden during the early times of Wang
Xianchen's ownership has been documented by Wen Zhengming; he made sketches and
notes which exist today. These notes describe in some detail the garden's
appearance and style. At that time the garden's area was approximately 13.4
hectares-quite large. There were 31 scenic spots altogether, with a lot of
bamboo, mountains, waters and trees, etc.; resemling nature and giving an air of
120 years later, in the fourth year of the Ming dynasty's Chongzhen
Period(1631 A.D.), the already slightly decayed eastern part of the garden was
owned by the aide Wang Xinyi. Wang was very good at mountain and water painting,
and he therefore designed and arranged such landscapes. He named the garden "the
Pastoral Garden Home". During the early Qianlong period, the western part of
the Humble Administrator's Garden split into a middle and a western garden.
The present West Garden was established during the third year of the
Guangxu period (1877 A.D.); it was rebuilt by Zhang Luqian; he named it "Rebuilt
Garden". This garden contained the sceneries of the Stay and Listen Pavilion,
the "With Whom Shall I Sit?"Pavilion, the Floating Green Pavilion, etc. There
were the 36 Pairs of Mandarin Ducks' Hall and the Hall of 18 Camellias newly
built; beautifully and exquisitively decorated.
The Middle Garden is the most distinguished part of the Humble
Administrator's Garden. It has experienced many changes throughout the dynasties
and is now different from the early Humble Administrator's Garden; the garden is
based on water, and there are many rockeries grounded in the ponds. Surrounding
the ponds there are numerous pavilions, terraces, halls and studios. Basically
it has preserved its structure from the Ming dynasty, and the sceneries have not
gone through many changes. The appearance of the Middle Garden took shape in the
Xianfeng/Guangxu periods of the Later Qing dynasty. The art of the Humble
Administrator's Garden has a prominent position in the history of China's garden
creation. It represents the historical characteristics and achievements of
south-east China's private gardens.